This wasn’t what was intended for barn

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published September 22, 1993 in The Suburban Life, added August 14, 2014


It was one an elegant little barn with a gabled roof.  Finished in board and batten siding with a wooded floor, it was gothic revival architecture.  They don’t make barns like that anymore.

The gable sported a small, triangular window with three sections of glass.

The front of the barn, up over the hayloft, had a half-round, sunrise-style window with many sections of wavy, antique glass fitted together.

In its prime, it was a proud barn, serving a proud purpose.  It was the home of Lady, the horse, who was the family transportation for the Joseph A. Muchmore family, one of the families at the heart of Madeira’s beginnings.

Not only did the barn house Lady, but it housed the buggy she pulled as well.  Upstairs, a hayloft served as the pantry where her food was stored.

At he leisure, Lady grazed about the grounds.  Another of her jobs was to keep the grass and clover mowed.  Mr. Muchmore had made for her a hitching rock.  She could be tethered to it and could pull it around the yard so that she could move from spot to spot. But it was too heavy for her to wander off too far.

Later, the Muchmore granddaughter, Cleo J. Hosbrook, who came into possession of the property and the hitching rock, liked to tell stories of Lady and the barn.

One day, back during the pet rock craze years ago, she hooked a leash to the rock and had her picture taken with it as if taking it for a walk.  She called it her pet rock.

She also told the story of how her Grandfather Muchmore once fell out of the half-round window when he was up in the hayloft.  He fell all the way to the ground, breaking his arm.

After Lady passed on, the barn became a garage when cars came on the Madeira scene.

Miss Hosbrook kept her car in it until shortly before she went into a nursing home just a few years ago.

The barn and all the surrounding Muchmore property and buildings stayed in the family.  The Muchmores passed it on to their daughter, Maude, and her husband, Charles Hosbrook, who, in turn, passed it on to their daughter Cleo.

Miss Hosbrook eventually gave the barn and all her property to the city of Madeira with the understanding that it was to be preserved as a part of our history and of Madeira’s history.

Standing in the heart of the city and coming as a gift from the heart of a member of one of Madeira’s oldest families, that seemed most fitting and proper.

Unfortunately, that did not happen as promised.  The once proud and noble barn suffered an ignoble fate a few mornings ago, despite the long efforts of may people who fought valiantly to save it.

We know not what kind of day it was when the barn went up so long ago.

But we know well about the day it came crashing down at so early an hour as to seem surreptitious, with even its antique windows smashed.

It’s sometimes hard for people to hang on to history.

Some people don’t want to pay the price.  And some don’t even want to try to hang on.

But how can we know where we’re going, if we don’t know where we’ve been?

One tiny barn standing preserved as a reminder of our past is worth thousands of snapshots tucked away in albums.  Or all the parking lots and concrete in the world.

Those of us who knew it and know its owner, Miss Cleo Hosbrook, mourn the passing of the barn.  It did not merit its unseemly demise.  Nor was it ever intended to end so.

We will not forget.